Helping Children Navigate Divorce – 6 Practical Suggestions for Parents

Divorce isn’t always easy to navigate for the couple who is going through it. It can be messy, stressful, hurtful, and… just not fun for anyone involved.

So, imagine how your children might feel.

Leaving your children out of your divorce as much as possible is always the best option. Depending on how old they are, they might be more involved than they should be. They may also pick up on the conflict between you and your former spouse.

Unfortunately, this can create a lot of problems for children. They may start to feel guilty or gravitate toward one parent over another. It can also cause some long-term emotional and psychological problems.

How can you get through a divorce in a healthy way without emotionally harming your children in the process?

Consider some practical suggestions.

Only Give Your Child Basic Information

Again, it’s always a good idea to leave your children out of your divorce as much as possible. Undoubtedly, though, they’re going to have some questions. How do you handle that?

Don’t lie to them. Instead, tell them what they need to know. For example, you can tell them what’s going on and what changes they can expect. This is meant to reassure them that they’re going to be safe, cared for, and loved.

Leave Your Ex Out Of It

What your children don’t need to know are the details of why you’re getting a divorce. You can tell them you’ll be happier apart. But they don’t need to know about things like constant arguing, infidelity, or other serious adult issues.

In fact, don’t talk negatively about your ex in front of your children. And don’t place the entire blame on your former spouse for the divorce. If you do, your children can end up harboring a lot of guilt. Or they may become angry with the other parent.

Make Sure Your Children Know They’re Not to Blame

One of the biggest issues children often face in a divorce is feeling like they’re the cause of it. It’s so important that you reassure them your divorce has nothing to do with them. In these cases, it may be necessary to give a little more explanation as to why you and your spouse are splitting.

However, still try to leave out gritty details if you can. Yet, do whatever it takes to assure your children your separation is not because of anything they’ve done. They shouldn’t have to carry around that stress or guilt.

Don’t Use Your Child as a Friend

When you’re going through a divorce, it’s normal to want to talk to someone and vent your frustrations. Your child is not the right person for that, no matter how old they are.

It’s not your child’s job to work out your feelings for you. They will have their own emotions to work through. And you need to be able to help them deal with those emotions—not the other way around.

Try to Have a Healthy Co-Parenting Relationship

Co-parenting with your ex won’t always be easy. But if you can be respectful and civil to one another, it can make a world of difference for your children. Commit to putting them first, even above your own emotions and feelings.

Don’t argue, blame each other, or discuss who has certain rights over another in front of them. Work on effective and productive ways of communicating while keeping the best interest of your children in mind.

Find Help and Support

Going through a divorce can be an overwhelming experience. If you truly feel like you can’t handle the stress and weight of it all, don’t be afraid to seek out help. The more you decide to take care of your mental and emotional health, the better you’ll be able to help your children through the whole experience.

Family and friends can offer a lot of support. There are also specific support groups for people going through divorces. Moreover, therapy can also make a big difference, for both you and your children.

 

If you are struggling through a divorce, we would be happy to help! Give us a call for a free 15-minute consultation. You’re not alone in the way you’re feeling. And it’s vital that you take care of yourself so you can continue to be the best parent possible for your children during this tumultuous time.

Some helpful resources also include these books:

The Co-Parenting Handbook: Raising Well-Adjusted and Resilient Kids from Little Ones to Young Adults through Divorce or Separation

The Good Divorce

Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After

 

 

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